368. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the Representative to the United Nations (Goldberg)1

[Here follows discussion unrelated to United Nations issues.]

LBJ: Now, two or three things on my part.

AG: Yeah.

LBJ: You got a pencil there—

AG: Yes, I do.

LBJ: You want to take some notes? I said to the group the other day that we are not pro labor—the steel people or pro business. We are pro—

AG: [Inaudible]

LBJ: —pro freedom, pro freedom. Now, we’re not pro Pakistani, we’re not pro India, we’re pro freedom in the world.

AG: Right.

LBJ: We’re for any nation—every nation—determining what it wants to do and then being left alone—

AG: Right.

LBJ: —free from aggression. We’re not even going to tell the North Vietnamese what they got to do or the Chinese what they got to do—

AG: Right.

LBJ: Now, we feel that very, very strongly. My own personal opinion is, that the twenty years that the UN has been in existence, it has not had a fair shake. I don’t think that Austin,2 and I don’t think that Lodge3 and I don’t think that Stevenson ever got over the fact that we just couldn’t fight any more wars, and we had to settle them some way, and this is the best way to settle them. Now, Morse4 says we oughtn’t to be so strong for UN settling Pakistan and India, and then being gangsters so far as Vietnam is concerned. Well, I don’t know whether—I didn’t get us into Vietnam and that was behind me before I got into it.

AG: Yeah.

LBJ: But now, when I asked you to go off the Court—

[Page 803]

AG: Yes.

LBJ: I didn’t do it to liquidate the UN.5 When I backed up and agreed to a new position,6 which was humiliating for me to do, I didn’t do it because I wanted to liquidate it—if I’d wanted to liquidate it, I’d have just let it go on as it was and it would go. Now, my whole purpose and my primary objective is to try to finally do an education job on the world that we can’t fight another war, whatever else you say. If we can, we got to resolve it some way and this is the only way I know to resolve it, or at least the best way I know to resolve it. So we’ve got to give them standing and prestige and so forth—

AG: Right.

LBJ: So the President of the United States, the most powerful country in the world, and the United States is standing there and getting down on its knees, and not standing ten feet tall, but even standing lower than U Thant of Burma, to support him all the way on this thing. And we are transferring from the White House, up to the United Nations, our positions. So I told Bill Moyers to tell these folks that we can’t be dealing under the table and carrying on little private negotiations with Pakistan, a little private one with India and a little private one with somebody else who is dealing between the two of them, while this man, his prestige, and his organization, and all of them are trying to work with the other nations of the world. We are really leaning over to try to go along with DeGaulle, to try to go along with the Russians if there is any way in the world we can.

Now, in that process, it’s very important that you educate—and I think the basic qualification that you’ve got that the others have not had is two-fold. One is you don’t point up the areas of disagreement, you find the areas that we can agree on and any damn fool can disagree on forty things.

AG: Yes.

LBJ: But the few things we can agree on, you search them out. Second is, I think that you can get over your viewpoint better to the country and to the public. So, I would like for you to say—Moyers said it this morning—“the position of the United States is as communicated by Goldberg yesterday upon advice and counsel and instructions of the President.”

AG: Right.

LBJ: That’s being done up there. We’re not going to do it here. We’re not going to do it at the State Department here, not going to do it with Ambassadors here, not going to do it with Pakistan and India here or [Page 804]out there. It’s going to be done up there. So you and Rusk get together. Be sure you are in agreement then [break in conversation] even after the Council meeting, and any time you can, I’d give them the damnedest slug of information that they ever got about the United States supporting the United Nations and trying to build up the United Nations every way in the world you can, and then you try to be on that front page every morning right along with the Russians—

AG: Right.

LBJ: —in language that the cab driver can understand better than he can the Russians about how much you want peace. They say we don’t want peace because I don’t give out an interview every day.

AG: Right.

LBJ: Now, I don’t give out an interview every day because it makes you look like a midget if I’m handling down here and you’re just popping off up there.

AG: Right.

LBJ: So I’m trying to get it transferred where you speak for us—

AG: Right.

LBJ: —that we pull all of our folks together.

AG: Right.

LBJ: But in order to do that, you’ve got to get out all these columnists—now, you were going to do that for me on the steel thing, you never did get around to doing it because it never did come through and you got busy in India and Pakistan, and I never saw all these liberals—

AG: Did you get the letters that—

LBJ: I got the letters, but I’m talking about the columns.

AG: Yes.

LBJ: You remember what I told you. You got involved in Pakistan. We struck out on that. We’ll do it again next time. Let’s don’t strike out on this though.

AG: Did Drew come through?

LBJ: No, ain’t nobody come through. You just get busy on this—

AG: Yeah.

LBJ: —and be sure that before you go in your Council, after you get out of your Council, wherever you are—

AG: Yeah.

LBJ: —that you’re backgrounding, talking to them and having hopes and strengths—

AG: Right.

LBJ: —here’s the problem and that you are saying every breath “we think the Pakistan people ought to have a cease-fire until we can pull [Page 805]this thing. We think India ought to do it.” What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Hold the two of them, be equal to both. Strictly neutral. Pull them together. No threats. But they’ve got to—they just can’t afford to have this World War III and they just—people are still paying for World War II and World War I, and they can’t have that kind of crime around their necks.

AG: Right.

LBJ: And you give plenty of information. And every day, say “I just talked to the President, I just talked to the Secretary of State,” and you can talk to Bundy and to Bill Moyers, when I’m in other things. And to me.

AG: Right.

LBJ: But be sure that you are talking to them every day so that we can put everything we’ve got behind the United Nations in this endeavor. Now Bill wants to say something.

[Bill Moyers on the telephone, LBJ reading news article]

LBJ: “The arena is at the United Nations—”

AG: Right.

LBJ: “—Moyers said.”

AG: Right.

LBJ: This was his—where I asked him to do yesterday and today. “Meanwhile, the official said, Johnson, for the President, was avoiding any specific comment on India, Pakistan, Red China, lest he create an inaccurate impression on U Thant that this country is proceeding on one course while the Secretary General has embarked on another.”

AG: Right.

LBJ: “Our attitude, Moyers said, is that the entire proposition rests in the UN where it should be. Moyers added that the President continued to hope that the UN could produce a quick and positive result which would lead to restoration.” I want him to quit hoping so much. “Johnson’s time was greatly occupied with studying,” and so forth. “Barring a change of heart, he will stay here.” Now, I think you ought to use this with U Thant. I think you ought to just say “this represents a dramatic”—

AG: Yes.

LBJ: —“constructive move on the part of my government, that the President and the Secretary of State have said that where he leads us, we will follow. We will support this man.” They turn him down and kick him in the ass, but we’re going to put our arm around him, and you just tell us which way you’d go, and we’d support you as best we can.

AG: Right. Now, Mr. President, have you seen me on television on this subject?

[Page 806]

LBJ: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

AG: All right.

LBJ: I think it’s good, too.

AG: Bill, have you got a copy of the speech I made last night at the lawyers?7

LBJ: No. I can tell you. Bill, he’s asking you?

BM: Yes, sir?

LBJ: Bill is busy talking with a more important—

BM: I, I saw it Mr. Ambassador—

AG: Yeah.

BM: —in The Washington Post this morning. There is a fuller account of it in the Star this afternoon.

AG: Yeah. Get a hold—I made a complete statement on this Kashmir thing where it’s just what the President has been saying—

LBJ: Well, you get the Pauline Fredericks in and you get all of them in and you saturate—

AG: Right.

LBJ: I think the John Birchers are getting more publicity than United Nations. I’ve been watching it for two days here and I saw you sitting there listening to them and writing some notes and then I saw you read a statement which was very good and positive. But I—Benson drowns you out.8 He’s over at headquarters at the John Birch Society down here.

AG: Mr. President, I’ll do that. I’m doing it every day.

LBJ: Good.

AG: Can you do something for me?

LBJ: Yes sir.

AG: What the hell is Wayne Hays carrying a torch against me?

LBJ: No, he can’t. Well, because, it’s like saying what the hell is Wayne Morse against—

AG: Right.

LBJ: —steel companies.

AG: No, I’ll take care of Wayne Morse.

LBJ: Yeah.

AG: I’ve taken care of him three or four times.

[Page 807]

LBJ: Well, there ain’t nobody can take care of Wayne Morse or Wayne Hays.

AG: Well, I’ll take care of him partially. At least he didn’t jump on us over the UN business.

LBJ: No.

AG: And, he was, he threatened to. And I’ll get a hold of him.

  1. Source:Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and Ambassador Goldberg, September 18, 1965, 1:27 p.m., Tape 65.04, Side A, PNO 2. No classification marking. Goldberg called the President from New York City. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.
  2. Warren Austin, Representative to the United Nations, 1947–1953.
  3. Henry Cabot Lodge, Representative to the United Nations, 1953–1960.
  4. Senator Wayne Morse (D-Oregon).
  5. Reference is to the Article 19 dispute.
  6. See Document 365.
  7. No transcript of the Goldberg speech was found. President Johnson also addressed the group. For text of his September 16 address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, Book II, pp. 999–1002.
  8. Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson.